If you are concerned that you, or someone you love, might be addicted to pornography, here are resources that can help you.
Maybe You Are Experiencing . . .
After viewing pornography, do you find yourself experiencing guilt, shame, and fear around being found out, and yet you continue the behavior?
If in a relationship, have you noticed a decrease in satisfaction and perhaps increased difficulty becoming sexually aroused by your partner?
Have you noticed that your pornography use has escalated over time in frequency, duration, and intensity of content?
Perhaps you have told yourself “I can stop anytime I want to,” but every time you quit you find yourself returning to some form pornography?
If you answered, “Yes” to some or all of these questions you may be experiencing a pornography addiction.
Wait a Minute . . . Did You Say Pornography Addiction?
If you’re like most people you’re probably wondering, “Can pornography really be an addiction? Don’t most people use porn?” You would be right in one sense. Pornography is used by a lot of people! With ever increasing access to high speed internet connections, pornography use is on the rise with nearly 9 out of 10 (87%) young men and 1 out of 3 (31 %) young women reporting using it in the United States.
Some people are able to view pornography casually and only on occasion, however many people find themselves spinning out of control and viewing porn compulsively. Some experts now estimate that, of those who view pornography, 60-65% become addicted; that’s compared to the addiction rate of heroin at a mere 10-15%.
Pornography addiction is no small thing. It has the power to destroy relationships, crash careers, and painfully isolate, all of which can lead to a host of mental ailments, including depression and anxiety. If you suspect that you or someone you love has a problem with compulsive pornography use, it is important to take action now and get the support you need to make a real and lasting shift.
If you are wondering about your own level of pornography addiction, I recommend taking a moment to full out this confidential online self-assessment to find out.
The Road to Recovery
It would seem, as with any addiction, that the solution is simple; just stop looking at pornography, right? However, because of the power of the addictive cycle that forms around pornography use, the road to recovery is often not so simple, or easy, and it often requires hard work and lots of support, including the support of a counselor. However, the rewards of recovery are well worth the effort because you get to have your life back, and all the energy that was being poured into pornography use can now go toward the things that you truly love and care about.
Professional support from a counselor trained in process addiction (behavioral addiction) recovery is one of the most effective forms of treatment available. Pornography addiction counseling is demanding, however with 3-5 months of sobriety under your belt you can expect significant shifts in brain chemistry as new patterns are created that promote healthy sexuality and relationships.
Your Brain on Porn (The Meat of the Matter)
All the symptoms listed above are normal reactions to a process addiction, such as pornography, and are experienced by a surprising number of people. Pornography is an extremely powerful stimulus for addiction because it is directly tied into the brain’s natural pleasure/reward circuit, which formed over millions of years to reward evolutionarily important behaviors, such as procreation. When you view pornography, what your brain actually sees, instead of an image on a screen, is an endless stream of novel mates. Over time, regular exposure to pornography creates shifts in brain chemistry and wiring, creating an addictive cycle that becomes hardwired. These brain changes are what eventually make you powerless over your addictive behavior.
Most of the individuals I meet have struggled with compulsive pornography use and it’s consequences for years before they come in to see me for counseling. However, your struggle with porn doesn’t have to be so difficult. There is a solution to your problem and you can be proactive and take action now before more harm is done.
Is Pornography Really That Big of a Problem?
At this point you may be thinking “Some of this might apply to me, but I’ve got it under control. Everyone uses porn, it can’t really be that bad, right?” You will never experience any moral judgment from myself as a counselor, however I encourage you to take an honest look at your life and how your pornography use may be negatively impacting it. Compulsive long-term pornography use can create enduring changes in your brain and personality, which can also lead to greater susceptibility to other addictions.
Perhaps you have been looking at porn since puberty and don’t know what adult life is without it, but all your relationships seem to struggle and fail when it comes to emotional and sexual intimacy? I assure you that if you suffer from any of the symptoms above, that life without pornography addiction can be far more fulfilling and satisfying then you can imagine.
Can’t I Just Do This on My Own?
You may also be thinking, “Hey this is kind of making sense, and I think this applies to me, but is it really that hard to stop? Can’t I just do it on my own?” If you think you have what it takes to overcome your addiction, I encourage you to set a goal of two weeks of total sobriety and see how it goes. If you succeed I congratulate you! Go for three months next. If that doesn’t work it may be time to reach out to a mental health professional.
Studies show that recovery without professional support often ends in relapse, and if you are not a part of the small percentage that can go cold turkey on their own, then I encourage you to seek process addiction counseling.
What About Treatment Confidentiality?
If you decide to come in, our work together is 100% confidential. If you are concerned about a mental health diagnosis affecting your life negatively, please know that I do not diagnose unless you request one for insurance purposes. Furthermore, a diagnosis of “process addiction” does not affect your ability to find work, buy a home, etc.
Porn Addiction Help Tips
Below are listed a few tips for dealing with porn addiction:
- Talking about the issues in detail with a trusted friend or therapist who will be as honest with you as you are honest with them.
- Making an addiction prevention plan to carry out when tempted.
- Putting tracking devices on your smartphone and computer so others (best not a spouse) can monitor your online behavior.
- Knowing the signs of porn addiction, both the general signs and those specific to you.
- Making good use of porn addiction resources such as 12-step meetings, process addiction professionals, and online recovery support groups.
Finding the right support for you is very important in your recovery. You may find that 12-step programs are an important part, along with the support of a therapist. When it comes to finding the right counselor, both their specific training and the personal fit you experience, are very important.
I have been trained in process addiction recovery work and have helped many walk their own unique road to recovery. I know what it takes to overcome this addiction and can give you the tools and information to succeed. Along they way healing may occur in other unexpected areas as we unravel the addictive process.
If you have not already done so, please click HERE to take this free confidential pornography addiction self-assessment to better understand the full extent of the problem.
Please do not hesitate to CONTACT ME with any questions or concerns or to set up your initial consultation. If you are not satisfied with your initial appointment and decide not to continue, there is no charge to you.
I wish you all the best in your recovery,
Dan Entmacher MA, LPC